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By Valerie Gallaher, Eddie Wright and Alex Zalben


I had this sense that I was part of, sort of a lineage of artists and writers through history that have had mood disorders.

When cartoonist Ellen Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder over 10 years ago she was, understandably, crushed by the news that she was now the recipient of a bright, shiny, new DISORDER. But alternately, she was kind of elated. She had arrived. She was legit. She was, in her words from her wonderful new graphic memoir "Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me," "Eccentric! Passionate! Tortured! Scary! Deadly! Fire! Ice! Unmoored! Unbridled! Unpredictable! Dangerous!" She was officially a "crazy artist."

The relationship between madness and creativity is fascinating and Forney explores it beautifully. Is craziness necessary to be an artist? Can you create if you haven't lost it a little? Is mania and depression just a by-product of brilliance? Are all artists a little mad? Forney embarked on a journey of self-discovery throughout the creation of "Marbles" and came away with not only a better understanding of her diagnosis, but a graphic novel that will help guide the bipolar, the depressed, the mad, and the fellow (crazy) artists who may or may not have actually lost their marbles.

I spoke with Ellen Forney over the phone about the risks of revealing so much of herself, being admitted into "Club Van Gogh," and whether madness is a necessary component to the creative process.


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